Did you know? 40% of Americans now live in a state where marijuana is legal for adults, causing the pressure to grow for those states that have still not legalized it. According to a national poll completed at Quinnipiac University, two-thirds of Americans are in favor of recreational legalization throughout the country. With pressure mounting, several more states could still legalize medical and/or recreational marijuana before the legislative periods are finished for this year.
Taking a look at the East Coast, New Jersey and New York have approved recreational marijuana programs (which are now expected to bring in $4 billion in annual sales within the first few years of commencing). This shines the spotlight on other East Coast states that have yet to legalize recreational or medical marijuana, such as Delaware, Connecticut, Rhode Island, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Other states that have legalized adult use of marijuana this year include New Mexico and Virginia. The two states are expected to generate a combined $2 billion in annual revenue within 5-6 years after sales are allowed to proceed.
Marijuana legalization debate leaves states divided
Despite some states having already passed legislation which approves the use of medical and/or recreational marijuana for all adults, other states are still dwindling behind. With political dynamics constantly changing, there is a pattern of uncertainty for yet other states, such as Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Minnesota. While Connecticut seemed promising just a few months ago in moving forward with legislation, according to experts it now seems less likely to do so. This is a trend for numerous states, with marijuana legalization seeming likely for a while and then regressing back to uncertainty.
There is a lot of grey area in the cannabis industry, particularly regarding its degree of legality in certain states. Some states such as California, Colorado, and New York have completely legalized adult use of marijuana, while other states such as Texas are somewhere in the middle. While Texas does have a limited marijuana program, it is not considered a state where medical marijuana (MMJ) is completely approved.
Marijuana users are crossing state borders to obtain cannabis
Karen O’Keefe, state policies director for the Marijuana Policy Project, says that the more states proceed forward with marijuana legalization, the more laggard other states seem who have yet to introduce legislation for legalization. According to O’Keefe, cannabis dispensaries and stores near state borders have their parking lots filled with cars from other bordering states who have yet to legalize marijuana.
According to the 2021 Marijuana Business Factbook, there are 38 states and Washington D.C. who have some kind of medical marijuana program in place. Only about 16 states have legalized recreational marijuana use for adults over 21, however. Medical marijuana legalization efforts are now focused more on conservative red states, such as Alabama. Currently, Alabama appears to be the most likely state to legalize MMJ at this point in time. South Carolina, Kansas, and Nebraska still seem unlikely. North Carolina, however, has become a “maybe” when the state’s senate committee submitted a legalization bill.
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